Internet

How to stay connected during an Internet shutdown

Offline messaging options that will keep you connected when there is no network access

Earlier this week, we wrote about the trending Bridgefy app that uses a mesh network to to let users text and share videos and images via Bluetooth. Offline messaging apps have recently been in the spotlight, even as protesters — like the ones in Hong Kong — are using them to communicate securely. In the past week, India too has seen a surge of interest in these, coinciding with the wave of protests across the country, against the CAB and NRC.

For those in the market for one of these off-the-grid apps, here are some options.

How to stay connected during an Internet shutdown

FireChat

Protesters in Hong Kong also used this peer-to-peer app, created by Open Garden, to communicate and spread information. It uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Direct to transmit data. Available on Android and iOS.

Pros: Secure communication across the mesh network, with a range of 60 m for Android users and 100 m for iOS.

Cons: Using both Bluetooth and WiFi Direct can drain phone batteries sooner.

How to stay connected during an Internet shutdown

Signal Offline Messenger

Developed by Bengaluru-based Khokho Developer, this app also uses WiFi Direct to connect to other users, or send a message instantaneously to the entire group. Available only on Android.

Pros: No limit on photos and other media that can be shared.

Cons: Being on the open network, privacy is not always guaranteed.

How to stay connected during an Internet shutdown

Briar

The messaging app was “designed for activists, journalists, and anyone else who needs a safe, easy and robust way to communicate” according to their website. Available only on Android.

Pros: It can sync via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi when there is no connectivity, and if the internet is up, will sync via the Tor network (which is also used for the Dark Web) to guard against surveillance.

Cons: Several users report difficulty in adding contacts, can send only text, no provision to share images/video

How to stay connected during an Internet shutdown

Vojer

Send texts, images and even voice notes across a peer-to-peer mesh network, and doesn’t need data or voice connection to transmit messages.

Pros: Users can stay anonymous.

Cons: Available only on iOS and costs ₹599

How to stay connected during an Internet shutdown

Two Way

A simple interface walkie-talkie app that will keep you connected over short distances, much like the traditional device.

Pros: Works with slow internet connections - even down to 2G. Cross-platform connectivity available with iOS and Android capabilities.

Cons: Interactions are public to anyone who lands on the same channel as you.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 5:51:38 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/internet/how-to-stay-connected-during-an-internet-shutdown/article30367033.ece

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